Home > Evangelism, FOSS > An open source eReader?

An open source eReader?

After poking around the Indie Bound (independent book sellers) website looking for a book I noticed a button for e-books.  Curious as to how that works with small bookstores I selected the link and started reading up on their eReader, the Kobo eReader.

I did a quick read on the Kobo and discovered it uses the open standard ePub file format for its books.  Sure, there are other eReaders on the market that do that but how many also publish their source code repository?  At least some of their code is licensed under the Apache 2.0 license!  That’s fantastic, in my opinion, and makes me forget about the Kindles and other eReaders out there that beg for my money.

I’ll be doing more research on this product as my local bookstore, The Annapolis Bookstore, sells the devices and the eBooks.  As I do more research I’ll report back on what I find.

Categories: Evangelism, FOSS Tags: ,
  1. LinuxFangirl
    2013-02-15 at 05:22 EST

    This is a big notice! I want to hear more about these ebooks I’m interesting on buy one but the prize added to its politics with the sharing of files had made go back in my decision and wait until an open ereader exit at the market and now I found it and I’m reconsidering my last decision… I NEED AND WANT THIS!
    PD:sorry for my bad englis :S

  2. Mark
    2013-02-15 at 11:06 EST

    Also check out Calibre on sourceforge.net

  3. Tom
    2013-02-15 at 12:08 EST

    I have the Kobo Glo and enjoy it. Unfortunately, the Kobo bookstore and sync has some region restrictions, and the lowest light setting feels too bright for an unlit room. The light comes in handy quite a lot. I store any books I purchased outside the Kobo bookstore on a memory card to keep the ebook reader from losing them if I log out of my Kobo account. I wish the device had some kind of screen lock though, in case I lose it and purchases are made to my Kobo account.

  4. 2013-02-15 at 15:41 EST

    Correct me if I am wrong, but check out pocketbook devices. AFAIK they use gpl for some of their softeware.

    • 2013-02-15 at 18:09 EST

      I’m not sure but if you find out let me know!

  5. 2013-02-15 at 16:09 EST

    Nooks and Sony Readers also use ePub. I think some source is available for Nooks. I think the source that B&N make available is purely what they’re required to disclose under GPL because they use GPL stuff to build their software, I don’t think it’s any kind of organized ‘open source reader’ effort, and I don’t think it’s complete. IMBW, though.

    Nook indeed seem to provide a bit more source than they’re obliged to, but not all their source; the top UI layer for both the pure readers and the tablets is not in the repos. They refer to these as ‘Kobo Reader’ and ‘Kobo Desktop’ in the notes. They do seem to provide almost everything under that, which is kinda neat.

    Note that all of the above – Sony, Nook, Kobo – use DRM on the books they sell from their own stores. Sony and Kobo both use the somewhat-standard Adobe Editions DRM, so you can share books between the two, and buy books from either store for either device. I _think_ Nook uses its own DRM, but I’m not sure. None of the three sells un-DRM’ed books.

    They will all open un-DRM’ed ePub files just fine, and a few online sellers sell these, but really, the only major one I know is Baen. All the other independent stores I’ve seen use Adobe DRM. Gutenberg provides un-DRM’ed ePubs, of course, but then it also provides un-DRM’ed files for Kindles, you can get stuff from Gutenberg in any format under the sun.

    I do like Kobo for a few reasons, though. It used to be a Canadian company (got bought out by a Japanese one recently, though), and the hardware is made in Taiwan, which is somewhat nicer than Made-in-China. I have a Glo and a Mini and I like them. Like Tom, though, I totally sidestep the ‘official’ sync channels; I buy books from the Kobo or Sony stores, then I strip the DRM and store them in Calibre on my computer, and transfer them to the readers over USB. I actually disable the wifi on both devices permanently.

  6. 2013-02-15 at 16:09 EST

    Grr – first word of the second paragraph should be ‘Kobo’, not ‘Nook’.

  7. 2013-02-15 at 16:54 EST

    I use OpenInkpot on my BeBook. Completely open source. Unfortunately, OpenInkpot doesn’t seem to be actively updating to new hardware these days.

    • Michael
      2016-06-04 at 16:06 EST

      David the openinkpot site is closed… would it be possible to get the firmware from you?

  8. Chad Sawatzky
    2013-02-15 at 18:31 EST

    I like my Kobo Touch. Most of the books in the Kobo store have Adobe DRM on them, but there are some authors and books that don’t require it. They will also indicate whether a book has or does not have DRM. My wife has been using Adobe Digital Editions (under wine) with our local library to sign out books online and read them on her Kobo. Calibre works with it too, but I have only have a couple books bought outside Kobo to manage.

    For any books purchased from the Kobo store it will sync books and bookmarks with all devices/applications on that account.

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